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When it comes to Summer in Ottawa, we never know how long it’s going to last! Some years we have gorgeous weather from mid-May all the way until mid-October and other years, Summer arrives for a day or two in between the rain and cooler temperatures.

All three of my boys love the water and for the past thirteen Summers we’ve been exploring beaches, splash pads, and pools across the city. Here are some of our favourite ways to cool off in the Summer!

young boy and baby playing in a wading pool
  1. Wading pools

In addition to the splash pads that are scattered in neighbourhoods across the city of Ottawa, you may be surprised to find out that there are also public wading pools that are open in July and August. For families who are new to Ottawa and live in the suburbs, there’s little opportunity to find out about the wading pools unless you’ve visited family or friends in more urban and central neighbourhoods.

Why we love wading pools: shallow water, shade, and often there are play structures at the same location

Our personal favourites: Strathcona, Sandy Hill, Canterbury, Sylvia Holden & Windsor

Whats important to know: There are lifeguards on duty at the pools but parents are responsible for staying within arms reach of their children. Even though the water is shallow you can still bring life jackets with you if your little ones are nervous in the water. Don’t forget to pack towels, snacks and sand toys!

The best part: there is no cost to use the wading pools

Click here for a full list of wading pools, including the hours they are open.

2. Splash pads

Nearly every newly-built subdivision in Ottawa has a splash pad but if you you’re keen to check out new splash pads I suggest looking at the map on the City of Ottawa website. Rather than driving back and forth across the city, choose a neighbourhood and aim to visit 2-3 splash pads on the same day. If your kids find one and are reluctant to leave you can at least drive by the other locations to see if they’re worth coming back to visit!

Why we love splash pads: There are dozens all across the City of Ottawa, which means you can almost always find one that isn’t crowded and it means there’s always new parks and splash pads to explore. Because they are located at playgrounds, if you have children who don’t love the water, there’s something for everyone to do.

Our personal favourites: Millennium, Brewer Park, Centrepointe, Fisher Park

Don’t forget: Because the majority are located in newer neighbourhoods, there is very little shade. Having a beach umbrella you can set up means you have somewhere cool to sit for snacks and a break. Don’t forget to bring buckets and other toys that can be used in both the sand and water.

boy running through a splash park fountain in ottawa

3. Beaches

We are lucky to have four beaches in Ottawa that are available for residents and visitors to use. There are clearly defined swimming areas as well as lifeguards on duty, which make them ideal spots for families to cool off in the Summer heat.

young boy walking along the beach

Our personal favourites: we love Petrie Island because of it’s size and the proximity of short nature trails as well as Mooney’s Bay beach because the brand new Canada 150 Park is at the same location.

Hidden gems: Although not a city of Ottawa beach, Burnstown beach is worth the drive as is the Baxter Conservation Area.

What’s important to know: Beaches are sometimes closed due to high bacteria counts in the water. Before you pack everyone up for the day, make sure you check for updates from the City of Ottawa.